£1m Haul Of Fake Pants Seized

Fake goods worth more than £5 million and destined to become Christmas gifts have been seized at ports across the country, the UK Border Agency said.

The items include counterfeit designer bags, purses, underwear, watches and electronic items which could have ended up under the Christmas tree.

The multimillion-pound haul has been uncovered over the last three months.

At the Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk, officials seized 7,500 pairs of counterfeit Ugg boots with a genuine retail value of £920,000.

Their counterparts at Heathrow Airport found 300 pairs of fake Dr Dre headphones and 5,000 Nokia phone chargers, while nearly £1 million of fake Calvin Klein underpants were found in Southampton.

Officers in Manchester found a container full of Hermes-branded handbags which, had they been real, would have been worth £120,000.

The Border Agency and Trading Standards departments are now warning festive shoppers to be careful about what they buy and where they buy it from to avoid fuelling the illegal trade.

Home Office minister Mark Harper said: ''Cheap counterfeits undercut honest traders, leaving shoppers with goods that are at best inferior and, at worst, harmful or unsafe.

''They are a serious threat to the British economy in terms of lost profits and tax revenues.

''Border Force officers operate at ports, airports and mail sorting centres to intercept counterfeit goods to protect British consumers and business.

''The public can play their part in disrupting the trade by ensuring they only buy from genuine retailers.''

Kevin Sayer, who works for the Border Agency at the Port of Felixstowe, said a wide range of goods had been found.

He added:

''We are uncovering all sorts of fake goods, from beauty products to children's toys, and we're warning people to be particularly wary of buying cheap items online or from unofficial traders.

''It's easy to be tricked into thinking you're getting a bargain, but in the run-up to Christmas our message is that if something appears too good to be true, it probably is.''

As well as attempting to evade duty and VAT, unscrupulous importers also put consumers at risk from potentially dangerous, unregulated products, the agency added.

Ron Gainsford, chief executive of the Trading Standards Institute, said:

''In this difficult economic climate money is tight for many of us, but there could be a high price to pay for bargain presents that aren't the real deal.''